Visas, residence permits and citizenship in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, immigration is governed by the law “On Foreign Citizens” (Закон за чужденците в Република България) which defines the rules for visas and residence permits.
Even though Bulgaria is part of the EU, it is not a member of the Schengen area so it has its own visa regime. Nevertheless, visitors with a Schengen visa are authorised to enter Bulgaria.
Type C visa (tourist):
Type D visa (
You must leave the country to prolong a Bulgarian visa. Exceptions are possible in special cases (e.g., health condition).
Residence permits are issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. When applying, the authorities require proof of accommodation (ownership or rental), employment or Type D visas as well as sufficient funds and medical insurance.
For families, one member has the right to apply. If they are successful, the other family members can apply under the family reunification rules.
It takes one month to process an application. Prolongation requests should be submitted no less than 14 days before the expiration date and contain renewed proof of accommodation.
Once the application is approved, residents are given an ID card (Карта на продължително пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец). Residence permit holders are considered Bulgarian residents.
If your application is successful, you are entitled to:
visa-freeentry and stay in Bulgaria
- open a business
- employment with permission from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
- access to education in schools and universities
- medical care
- invite foreign citizens for private visits under a guest visa
- business owner in Bulgaria employing at least 10 Bulgarian citizens
- marriage to Bulgarian citizen
- representative of a foreign company registered with the Chamber of Trade and Commerce of Bulgaria (Българска
- patient in
long-termhospital care in Bulgaria
- foreign media correspondent accredited by Bulgaria authorities
- pensioner with sufficient funds to live (i.e., €80/month in 2015 or BGN 157 (Bulgarian Lev)) and a Bulgarian bank account with at least €1,500
- family member of a foreign residence permit holder in Bulgaria
full-timestudent in Bulgaria
Exception for real estate investors:
As of 19 February 2013, a residence permit can be obtained by buying real estate worth at least €300,000 (BGN 600,000) or more. The ownership can be personal or through a legal entity where the applicant holds at least 50% equity.
Holders are given an ID card (Карта на дългосрочно пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец) valid for five years. To prolong it, all you need to do is submit an application. Family members of a
To apply, you must not have been absent from EU territory for more than ten months or six months in a row.
Permanent residence (разрешение за постоянно пребиваване) gives holders the same rights as citizens, except the right to vote. You can apply for permanent residence after five years of legal residence in Bulgaria.
The following categories are entitled to permanent residence:
- foreign citizens of Bulgarian origin
- children under 18 (dependents of permanent residents)
- parents of Bulgarian citizens
- investors putting €500,000 (BGN 1M) into the Bulgarian economy
- family members of Bulgarian citizens who have lived in Bulgaria for the last five years
Permanent residence allows holders to stay indefinitely on the territory of Bulgaria. They receive a Unified Citizen Number (UCN) and an ID card (Карта на постоянно пребиваващ в РБ Чужденец). Close family members have the right to apply for permanent residence.
If the holder is absent from EU territory for more than 12 months, permanent residence received on the basis of Bulgarian origin or investment may be revoked.
The following situations are punishable by revocation of residence rights:
- criminal offences with prison sentences of three years or more
- false or forged documents and false information used to enter Bulgaria and obtain a residence permit
- health conditions that are public health risks according to World Health Organization criteria, lack of vaccination certificates and/or arrival from an area of sanitary and epidemiological risk
- lack of financial means for subsistence and compulsory insurance necessary for the duration of stay and consequent departure
- previous border, visa, currency, tax, labour or customs violations
- sham (fake) marriage to obtain a residence permit
How to get citizenship
Bulgarian citizenship is regulated by the law “On Bulgarian Citizenship” (Закон за българското гражданство). Bulgarian citizenship is recognised as EU citizenship, meaning that holders have the right to
Applicants must comply with the following criteria for citizenship:
- permanent residence for five years prior to application
- no criminal charges or convictions of any kind in Bulgaria
- means of financial subsistence such as employment, rental income or pension above the national minimum wage
- speaks Bulgarian
- gives up any other citizenship by the moment Bulgarian citizenship is granted
Naturalisation takes three years in the following cases:
- marriage to a Bulgarian citizen for three years or more
- individuals born in Bulgaria
- permanent residence holders before the age of 18